Children's Hospital DJs Spin A Dose Of Joy

In Miami, there are dozens of radio stations. But one is not like the others. Radio Lollipop is housed inside Miami's Children's Hospital. The disc jockeys spin songs, but the message is just as much on hope as it is entertainment.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There are close to 70 radio stations in Miami, but one of them isn't like the others.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO STATION I.D.)

UNIDENTIFIED DJ: You're listening to Radio Lollipop.

SIMON: Radio Lollipop has sky-high ratings and a devoted audience. It broadcasts from inside the Miami Children's Hospital to its 300 young patients. Reporter Judith Ritter paid a visit.

JUDITH RITTER, BYLINE: Most radio DJs don't look like Dazzling Dave, especially when he wears his red superman cape.

DAVID: All right. Radio Lollipop friends. Dazzling Dave back here, and I have a special request for my friend Jandan in 310; wanted to hear a little bit of Lady Gaga, "Poker Face." If you have something you want to hear, 4444, that's the number. Let's hear it.

RITTER: Dazzling Dave, aka David Berry, is one of the trio of volunteer DJs tonight. He's with Nutty Nora and Paradise Patty for what they call Terrific Tuesday. The idea for Children's Hospital Radio comes from Great Britain. There are similar stations in Australia and New Zealand. But here in the U.S., there are just two - in Houston, and this one in Miami.

As usual, the studio is buzzing. One small child dances and smacks a tambourine, another clatters through in a plastic car. Meanwhile, other patients who can't leave their beds call in from their rooms, make requests and try to win contests.

(APPLAUSE)

DAVE: All right. Dazzling Dave here in 2 East. We're excited to introduce Paradise Patty.

PARADISE PATTY: Oh, yes, it is time to introduce the winners. In 2 East we have Barrington in 202, Samantha in 205, oh, Samantha. Alana 216 and Raymond, he is the man, in 218A. Congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

RITTER: And some kids get to try out being DJs. That's what lanky, blond 12-year-old Katrina's about to do. She's in the hospital for an eating disorder, a problem momentarily forgotten.

KATRINA: This is Cool Cat Katrina and next for Tamayo in room 332B is "Wide Awake" by Katy Perry.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RITTER: The music ranges from hip-hop to Disney and for now, Katrina's mom, Wendy Novak, says the studio is the happiest place in the hospital.

WENDY NOVAK: When I heard her on the radio, it made my heart soar. Yeah, it's a great feeling.

RITTER: And the medical staff thinks it's great too. Takes the kids' minds off being sick. The closed circuit radio show is broadcast throughout the hospital and volunteers go room to room to animate activities and contests that are announced on air.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Radio Lollipop. Can we come in? Yeah? Awesome. Hi.

RITTER: Three-year-old Ava sits in a chair in a tangle of tubes and wires. Her mom, Nickelle Crawly, says Ava's a big Radio Lollipop fan.

NICKELLE CRAWLY: A few months ago, I think it might have been after she had chemo five, she was recovering from having a fever. Girls came around and said: Radio Lollipop's open, come on over. And so that's what we did. We took the IV pole, we went right over to Radio Lollipop. Ava was the star. It was great.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO LOLLYPOP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: You're, You're, You're, You're, You're, You're listening to Radio Lollipop.

ETHAN: I wanted to put in a song request.

RITTER: Ethan has chronic respiratory issues and his visitors have to wear masks. He's stuck in his room for now.

ETHAN: I like the activities and the people. They come to your door and they're, like, do you want to participate into these activity, and then if you win, you win a prize.

RITTER: For the parents and kids at Miami Children's Hospital, Radio Lollipop is a dose of joy and hope, and tomorrow night at 6:30 the party starts all over again. For NPR News, I'm Judith Ritter.

(SOUNDBITE OF KATY PERRY'S "WIDE AWAKE")

KATY PERRY: (Singing) I'm wide awake. Yeah, I was in the dark, I was falling hard, with an open heart. I'm wide awake. How did I read the stars so wrong? I'm wide awake and now it's clear to me that everything you see ain't always what it seems. I'm wide awake...

SIMON: The great Katy Perry. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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